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Given the fifth and eighth place finishes in Australia, it may be logical for Ferrari fans to feel like the team are heading down a familiar path of average performance and struggling in-season development. Ferrari technical director, James Allison, agrees and says that the competitiveness of this year’s F14T chassis is “not acceptable”.

The team is working “round the clock” to increase the competitiveness and claw back some ground that Mercedes currently holds on the entire field. The Ferrari of 2014 seems to have pace on high-speed corners but struggles with stability under braking and speed down the straights.

Like all Formula 1 season’s, the war of in-season car development is the most expensive and crucial part of each year and Allison says Ferrari need to work extra hard to stand of chance of competing in the development war:

“All the recent seasons in F1 have been characterised by a fierce development battle from March until November,” he said.

“With all the new regulations this year, the opportunities to improve the car are legion and we can expect the race to improve the cars to be even more intense than normal.

“We intend to fight our way back up the grid with the improvements that we will bring to the car.”

As for the drivers, they also believe there is a lot of work to be done. Fernando Alonso finished some 35 seconds adrift of Mercedes driver and race-winner Nico Rosberg but he says that the team needs to be patient:

“It is just the first race so no one can say who will win the championship after just the first race or who will lose it,” said Alonso when asked whether he felt Ferrari could catch Mercedes.

“We need to be calm, to do better next time and just to try to understand the areas to improve and the areas we seem strong.

“Mercedes looked very strong in winter testing and they were very strong here and they won the race because they deserve [it].

“At the moment they are a little bit ahead of everyone; we need to improve and reduce that gap to minimum and hopefully finish in front of them.”

His teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, battled the car during the Australian Grand Prix and suggests the first place to focus on is the new brake-by-wire system:

“We identified some general problems which we have to tackle in Maranello and there are other aspects linked to the set-up on my car to do with the brake-by-wire system,” said Raikkonen.

“Getting this device working correctly is definitely something that contributes to the general feeling from the car, because it has a great effect on corner entry.

“Having said that, the F14 T improved right through Friday and Saturday and not getting into Q3 was not down to the competitiveness of the car.”

It certainly would stand to reason, as Raikkonen seemed to struggle with the car quite a lot under braking during the race. Raikkonen says that this isn’t his first troubled weekend he’s ever had in F1 and if Ferrari is focused on the right elements, he feels they can rebound in Malaysia and come out with a good result:

“I’ve been in this game for quite a while now,” said Raikkonen, “and I can say this is definitely not the first time that I’ve gone through a difficult first race weekend.

“I’m sure that, if we work in the correct way, then right from the next race in Malaysia, the results can definitely be better.”

Raikkonen has a different driving style than Alonso and the team is intent on finding the right balance for him but the overarching theme might be finding the balance to be on par with Mercedes. Time is what is needed—it’s also one of the rare commodities in F1.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Tom

    From what little I know, the problems over in Maranello indeed seem to be manageable. Like Red Bull, Ferrari’s biggest problem seems to be software, both regarding their engine as well as their brake-by-wire system. So in theory, they should be competitive once they get around those issues as the car itself looks good.

    However, there’s one dark cloud over all of this: Unlike Red Bull, Ferrari had a rather trouble free testing campaign, so they SHOULD have been on top of any software issues a long time ago. The fact that they’re still there points to a larger problem.

  • wchrisg

    Wow, Kimi is positively chatty. I agree with Tom. Perhaps having a quiet testing period means they focused on the wrong elements or didn’t test hard enough.

  • jeff

    Does anyone else feel Ferrari’s too conservative, in technical design, race strategy, team philosophy? I mean over the last decade plus.

    Their launch spec cars tend to be clean, somewhat under-developed according to the aero savants. Their strategy calls favor the known (why not call Kimi in immediately at the AUS GP safety car, rather than wait to see what competitors did?)

    I’ve gotten that impression throughout the years; it worked for the early 2000’s, with Byrne’s “evolution not revolution” mantra, but he started from a strong base, fundamentally redesigned, as the evolution’s center, and Ross Brawn both eradicated certain long-held Ferrari customs in the team and emboldened the race strategy teams.

    Since 2006, Ferrari’s appeared to revert back to tradition, holding onto technical dead ends and relying upon car performance (that hasn’t been there) to the detriment of fully-realized and flexible race strategy.

    I don’t have evidence, it’s just a feeling; am I wrong here?

    • Joseph Simmons

      Sorry, Jeff, I meant to state my agreement with your comments. Kinda got on a rant! Just feel like Alonso window is closing on him winning a third WDC.

      • Jeff

        No apology needed Joseph :D

        It’s scary seeing so much talent and effort and Power not proving fruitful, like the Alonso and Ferrari relationship. 2nd in consecutive years is mighty impressive for most, but you just know for Scuderia Ferrari and the World Champion are grinding their respective teeth down in anger/frustration.

        I’m not a huge fan of either team nor drive, but for me, the Alonso drive of 2012 was the most comprehensive display of excellence I’ve seen since the old Michael days. Say what I will, Mr. Alonso has given Ferrari its money’s worth in performance terms.

  • Joseph Simmons

    As a follower of Ferrari, but a not a card carrying member of the tifosi, the past broken record of performance lands at the office door of Stefano Domenicali! Since his ascendsion to team principal, he has been on watch for the 20008 constructorship champion, which is really his crowning achievement! He has kept Massa for two seasons to long, Chris Dyer Abu Dhabi call on Alonso in 2010, 2012 pushrod rabbit hole, 2013 poor development, and now 2014 gas guzzler. As stated in the recent podcast, Domenicali should be bar mates with Whitmarsh or lost at sea with Gascoyne by now! How do you fix it? Luca it time you placed a call to Ron! By the way, Jeff, you’re wrong!

  • Ferrari is decent at making progress throughout the season. Alonso has shown why he is one of the greatest ever drivers and with Kimi as a pairing, they should get a decent run in the constructor’s championship should the reliability remain. Both drivers can get more out of the car than anyone else. Tailoring the car to work with both driving styles will test Ferrari.